Forty days and forty nights did it rain children. If this does not trigger memories of Saturday morning cartoons and sugary cereals, look up School House Rock. How else would we have learned about “conjunction junctions”, the Preamble to the Constitution and of course “Bill” and how he became a law.
Not only did it rain on Noah, but the number 40 appears 145 other times in the Bible. Moses spent forty days on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, then another forty for the second set of tablets. Kings Saul, David and Solomon each reigned forty years and Goliath challenged the Israelites forty days before David put an end to it. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, fasting and being tempted which is the basis for our Lenten season. Lent traditionally begins forty-six days before Easter, less the interspersed six Sundays leaves forty days.
The number forty represents a time of trial or purification, so Lent is much more than just a reason to have Mardi Gras. It is a time of self-reflection and sacrifice to honor the sacrifice of Jesus and our purification because of His Resurrection. Hallelujah! Yet many simply give up eating meat on Fridays which created the wonder that was “fish stick Friday.” Others choose to give up chocolate (which is never a good idea) though interesting enough, we give chocolate bunnies as Easter gifts.
If we are to sacrifice anything, let us set aside our pride and recognize our rough edges. Perhaps we should sacrifice deep seeded pain and offer forgiveness, to others as well as ourselves. Devote time for prayer, learn to listen to the voice of God and reflect on His Words. It is said that it takes twenty-one days to create a habit, either good or bad, so what could you accomplish in forty? Here’s a suggestion: there are 31 Proverbs, one for every day of the month (okay sometimes only 30, or 29, or 28). Whatever day it is, choose to read that Proverb, (if the 10th of the month, read Proverbs 10.) Start small and add in more as the habit takes form. There are 150 Psalms, 5 for every day (if the 10th day, multiply by 5 and read Psalm 46 to 50.) I apologize for the math, but I’m nerdy like that.
This Lenten season, shy away from temporary changes like fish sticks on Friday, only to eat ham on Easter. Focus instead on permanent change: a habit of prayer, self-reflection, forgiveness and helping others. When Jesus’ forty days ended, His ministry began, and He changed the world. God willing, we should strive to do the same.
If these words have touched your heart, reach out to me at John@LiftedKeys.com and continue the conversation. I would love to know where and in what way God has guided His words through my pen.